Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mike Preston Report Card: Rankings for 2021 Ravens Season | A COMMENT

The 2021 season will be one of the strangest in NFL history, especially in Baltimore.

Before the season began, the Ravens lost their top three runners, J.C. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, and Pro Bowl defender Marcus Peters. And then they lost Ronnie Stanley, one of the best left tackles in the NFL, after opening the season against the Raiders in Las Vegas.

Despite this, the Crows continued to work throughout the season, even though injuries continued to grow. They won some games on their own; in others, they were lucky. It didn’t matter. The fans will tell you, “Victory is victory.”

This is true at least at the beginning of the season, but not in December and January. Competitive teams want to win, but they also need style points because that means they are getting better. The idea is to peak in the postseason, not continue to survive.

Improving to 8-3 after beating the Cleveland Browns 16-10 on November 28, the Ravens continued their six-losing streak. At one point, they went from being the best seed in the AFC to being left out of the extended field after their 16-13 overtime defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

It was only a matter of time before luck or fate turned away from the Crows. A team cannot rely on an NFL record with a 66-yard field play, fumble, blocked field goal, or missed 2-point conversion games to win every week. Sooner or later, talent takes over, especially when rival quarterbacks alternate between Aaron Rogers, Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford and Ben Rotlisberger, and host Davante Adams, Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr.

If the Crows carefully scrutinize their program – coaches, off-season programs, doctors, coaches – and make the necessary changes, they should be a serious contender in 2022.

“Actually, I have only one message for all the questions, you know what I mean?” Chuck Clark asked for the Ravens’ safety after being defeated at the end of the season by Pittsburgh. “So every question that comes after that is as respectful as possible, just watch us bounce back. That’s all I have to say. ”

That’s all we needed to hear.

But before we move away from 2021, here is my final report for the season:

Quarterbacks

Starter Lamar Jackson played well for almost half the season, but started having accuracy issues in Week 7 when he lost 41-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the beginning of his downward spiral. The 22:10 defeat to Miami on November 11 showed that he had problems reading blitz, overcoming pressure and the ability to quickly get rid of the ball. Jackson has regressed slightly since 2020, despite completing 246 out of 382 assists for 2,882 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also been fired 38 times and made 13 interceptions, a career record. Tyler Huntley proved himself a good understudy with 122 of 188 assists for 1,081 yards and three touchdowns, but also showed that he needed more playing time. He must learn to go through his progressions. Josh Johnson was added at the end of the season and was impressive for the limited time he played, completing 28 of 40 assists for 304 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his only start against the Bengals. Grade: B-

Running backs

The “Ravens” were without their top three performers all season due to injuries, and they squeezed out of this group as much as possible. Neither Devonta Freeman nor Latavius ​​Murray had the consistent speed and acceleration to jump out, but sometimes they tricked the teams and both got better in the second half of the season. Freeman finished with 576 yards and five touchdowns at 133 carries, while Murray had 501 yards and six touchdowns at 119 carries. The player who had the speed to get out was Ty’Son Williams, but he fell out of favor with coach John Harbaugh. Williams had 35 carries for 185 yards and one touchdown and could have gotten more playing time if he worked and trained harder. Grade: C +

Line of attack

It was something that group general manager Eric DeCosta had hoped to improve in the offseason, but it didn’t work out. Quarterbacks were often coerced and fired 57 times. Stanley was expected to be the cornerstone, but he only played one game because he didn’t fully recover from his ankle injury last November and had to undergo another surgery. The Ravens expected Alejandro Villanueva to provide stability on the right tackle, but had to move him to the other side to replace Stanley. It didn’t matter. Villanueva, a longtime Steeler, had problems with knee bending, lateral movement and struggling with speed rushers. Kevin Zeitler, the free agent, played well as a right-back, and Bradley Bozeman was confident in the center, although he found it difficult to break out at times. The Ravens tried several players in the left-back position, but none of them worked. In general, this group could block, but the lack of athleticism was a problem when blocking a pass. Grade: С-

receivers

This group has potential, but it has been underutilized. Jackson battled pressure and the quarterback changes broke the continuity. Tight end Mark Andrews was one of the best in his position in the NFL, catching 107 assists on 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns. He has been a factor throughout the field in short, medium and long range attacks. However, quarterbacks paid too much attention to Andrews and rarely went to second in their progress. Marquise Brown had 91 catches per 1008 yards and six touchdowns, but she couldn’t be relied on, especially after Jackson suffered an ankle injury at the end of the season. The Ravens picked Rashod Bateman in the first round in April, but he often disappeared after the first half of many games. Bateman nonetheless finished with 46 catches at 515 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens had a lot of speed with Brown and Devin Duvernet, but they never took advantage of it: Duvernet only caught 33 assists for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Sammy Watkins had 27 catches at 394 yards, but became another free agent who did little in that first attack. Grade: C +

Line of defense

Few teams can compete with the Ravens, and 2021 was no exception. Ravens are only allowed 1436 yards and 3.8 yards per carry. Despite injuries, both end Calais Campbell and tackle Brandon Williams were in the spotlight, although Williams didn’t play well until the second half of the season. Campbell was eighth in tackles with 49, and Williams was 12th with 35. The problem for both is their age, since Campbell is 35 and Williams is 32. The crows need an influx of young talents. Campbell will probably be invited back if he wants to, but the Crows can part ways with Williams. Justin Madubuke, who has completed his second season, may enter the starting position. He had 36 tackles last season, but it is questionable whether Justin Ellis (18 tackles) and Broderick Washington (16) are ready to become regulars. The Ravens may look to the draft to find starters, especially pass rushes, because only Madubuke and Campbell were pushing. Derek Wolfe, who was supposed to start at the end, never entered the field in 2021 due to injuries. Grade: B-

Midfielders

If this defense was going to play well, the midfielders and linemen had to take control and dominate. The builders have done their job. The midfielders fought. Outside midfielder Tyus Bowser (59 tackles) played well until his last game against Pittsburgh when he suffered an Achilles heel injury. Veteran Josh Bynes (76) came in and did a decent job replacing Patrick Queen (leader of Team 97) in the center. Bynes, however, was a hindrance to pass insurance. No midfielder has had a more disappointing season than Queen. He played poorly as a middle midfielder at the start of the season, but after a few games on the schedule he was relegated to the weak side. He thrived for a game or two, but then returned to missed tackles and not being able to cover up in passing situations. Quinn missed a lot of tackles, mainly due to the fact that he tried to use a grab instead of putting his body on the ball carrier. Justin Houston had 34 tackles and 4 ½ sacks, but didn’t give the Ravens the pass rush they needed. Third-year midfielder Jylon Ferguson gave the team little, and veteran Pernell McPhee gave even less. Grade: С-

The average

The Ravens will point out that rear end misunderstandings stem from injuries, but this unit has struggled in the same areas when three of the four starting lineups opened the season. Something is missing, especially when the receivers are constantly running wide, especially in the middle of the field. The Ravens started the season without Peters, and then things got worse with late-season injuries for cornerback Marlon Humphrey and defender DeShawn Elliott Humphrey, although he didn’t play well before suffering a pectoral tear on a 13th week losing streak. Pittsburgh. Safety Chuck Clark (80 tackles) played well at the end of the season and began to lead the team. But at the end of the year, the Crows couldn’t physically match each other, especially with full-backs like Chris Westri and Kewon Seymour. WHO? This is my point of view. The game in Pittsburgh could be the last for veteran Jimmy Smith, full-back and full-back Anthony Levin Sr. Grade: D

Special commands

Justin Tucker continues to prove he can be the best player in NFL history. He scored 35 of 37 field goals, two of which missed between 40 and 49 yards. But he was six out of six from over 50 yards, including the 66-yard NFL record he scored in Detroit. Overall, the Ravens game was good. Player Sam Koch averaged 44.4 yards in 71 tries and hit the 20-yard line 26 times. Koch, however, hasn’t covered the same distance in his last four games as he did at the start of the season. Duvernay averaged 24.1 yards on 28 retaliatory strikes and averaged 13.9 yards on 26 strikes back. Rating: B +

Coaching

Harbaugh and his staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping this team together despite the depleted lineup. They played hard and competed every week and were on the verge of making the playoffs. The head coach’s job is to get his players out into the last four minutes of the game and then the playmakers have to play. Well, the Ravens didn’t have that many playmakers left, so the coaching staff had to prove themselves. This staff was not present on match days. “We failed a lot of games here, in the sense that we just couldn’t find the game,” Harbo said. “We couldn’t find the play we needed. We couldn’t find a way to put them in a position to make a game that would change the game, and that’s what is worse for me as a coach. ” He got it right. Rating: C

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